Songs of Gold Mountain by Marlon K. Hom explores the experience of Chinese people in America and the literary history of San Francisco’s Chinatown. With over 200 poems from the Songs of Gold Mountain anthologies published in 1911 and 1915, these rhymes provide insight into life in San Francisco. Hom’s introduction provides a rich history and backdrop for understanding the poems, which are presented in Chinese and in English.

American laws, more ferocious than tigers:
Many are the people jailed inside-wooden walls,
Detained, interrogated, tortured,
Like birds plunged into an open trap-
  What suffering!
To whom can I complain of the tragedy?
I shout to Heaven, but there is no way out!
Had I only known such difficulty in passing
  the Golden Gate …
Fed up with this treatment, I regret my journey here.

The pair of mandarin ducks has been split apart;
The rouge-faced woman is left with a broken heart.
How she regrets urging Husband to go to the
  Golden Gate.
So many oceans, so many mountains-her spirit
  dies while she waits.
Without a moment of peace­
Youth goes away swiftly.
Disheartening surroundings, a chaotic mind,
How can she bear the full moon in the still of the

Ever since I’ve arrived in Gold Mountain,
Not one day have I dared forget my family.
My mind is chaotic, like hemp fibers, with constant
  thought of home;
Each meal is hard to swallow, because of sorrow. My dear woman:
Don’t ever think your husband has betrayed your
It’s hard enough to share my words with you in
My soul is wandering, every night, my tongue

Learn more about Songs from Gold Mountain